Luke Bowery, companion at Burges Salmon, considers among the present points at play for employment attorneys within the wake of COVID-19 and up to date widespread social actions
One factor is obvious when Luke Bowery talks about employment legislation. The Burges Salmon companion tells me it requires attorneys with robust folks expertise, due partially to the excessive ranges of shopper interplay on the core of the sort of work.
The Oxford historical past graduate joined Burges Salmon as a trainee in 2002. He certified into employment and made companion in 2014. Bowery explains with enthusiasm that he selected employment legislation “because of the breadth of labor out there”. All kinds of attention-grabbing circumstances and shoppers, coupled with a close-knit crew, are simply among the causes he has remained on the agency for therefore lengthy.
His crew covers all areas of employment legislation — from particular person disciplinary and grievance points by to complicated human sources tasks, employment litigation and help on main M&A offers. “Trainees and newly-qualified attorneys begin life as generalists overlaying a broad vary of employment work”, Bowery explains, “however can typically turn into extra specialist later of their careers relying on the shoppers they work for and the linked work which comes throughout their desks.”
So, what makes a superb employment lawyer? Bowery explains that being “personable”, “empathetic”, and, in fact, “good with folks” are a should. Employment legislation is maybe distinctive to different areas of the legislation within the sense that there’s a distinct “human side” to the work, he provides. Different key expertise highlighted by Bowery embody the flexibility to multi-task and to work to tight deadlines, in addition to staying on prime of fast-moving and ever-changing laws and case legislation.
The coronavirus pandemic and ensuing lockdown triggered a major rise in employment-related work, Bowery reveals. Confronted with a sudden and pressing transfer en masse to remote-working and ever-changing guidelines and steerage on each the federal government’s Coronavirus Job Retention (furlough) Scheme and making workplaces COVID-secure, employers sought recommendation from attorneys. Burges Salmon’s employment crew needed to rapidly familiarize yourself with the brand new guidelines and schemes and common modifications to the identical and, extra importantly, perceive how they affected their shoppers. There are essential concerns for the long run too because of the pandemic, in accordance with Bowery, together with doubtless restructuring and redundancy programmes and potential widespread modifications to working patterns and phrases and situations of employment.
One other problem going through companies over coming months — and subsequently employment attorneys — is the secure return of employees to the workplace setting (every time that could be viable). Burges Salmon’s employment and well being and security attorneys will should be readily available to advise shoppers on how finest to do that whereas adhering to the related guidelines and laws. They can even be taking a look at home-working, which has rocketed in recognition because of the lockdown, and the doubtless enhance in subsequent versatile working requests, Bowery provides. This may contain advising shoppers on their future workspace and workforce necessities, particular person employment contracts (and probably how pay and allowances may be diverse to mirror home-working preparations) and the way to make sure an acceptable and secure working setting for workers working remotely.
One other present sizzling matter for employment attorneys is the Equality and Range agenda, pushed partially by high-profile social actions together with #MeToo and Black Lives Matter. He explains that these international actions have caused an elevated consciousness of those points within the office, resulting in a rise in investigation-type work and sometimes, subsequent employment litigation. As well as, gender pay hole reporting is now a compulsory requirement for companies with over 250 staff, making points surrounding equality and pay extra clear between employer and worker. Bowery says ethnicity pay hole reporting is just not a compulsory requirement for UK companies as but however many purchasers have already chosen to report voluntarily and consequently, this has been one other attention-grabbing space retaining employment attorneys busy.
Brexit has additionally had an influence at Burges Salmon and, particularly, the agency’s immigration follow. Bowery tells me companies must know concerning the “ongoing standing of their EU workforce” post-Brexit and what they should do to have the ability to efficiently navigate the brand new regime for using EEA and abroad nationals.
Reflecting on his profession, Bowery advises trainees and junior attorneys to be affected person, get pleasure from what they’re doing and to try to become involved in as diverse a workload as attainable. It takes time to realize expertise throughout a broad follow space comparable to employment and to know your shopper to the purpose the place you turn into their “trusted adviser”. For college students trying to achieve expertise in employment legislation, Bowery acknowledges that we’re in unprecedented occasions however believes alternatives are nonetheless on the market, given how a lot employment attorneys are at present in demand. He concludes:
“Make use of the alternatives which might be nonetheless out there; learn the authorized press and attend on-line occasions to study extra concerning the authorized trade and make essential connections. Good employment practices are producing important quantities of on-line content material for the time being so evaluate their web sites, take heed to their podcasts and movies and attend their webinars to get a greater image of whether or not employment legislation may be for you.”
Luke Bowery shall be talking alongside different Burges Salmon attorneys at ‘Scorching follow space focus: Life as an employment lawyer’, a digital pupil occasion happening subsequent week, on Wednesday 21 October. You’ll be able to apply to attend the occasion, which is free, now.
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